Design and Develop Responsibly

What We Plan To Do

Drafting Pencil


Implement an integrative design process in new construction and renovations to meet University sustainability performance targets while making more efficient use of land and optimizing use of built space.

Design and Develop Dashboard Graph

Short and Long Term Objectives

Princeton’s next generation of action is to practice integrative design when developing indoor and outdoor environments, toward achieving ambitious sustainability targets. Central to our design objectives is to visibly and experientially reinforce sustainable habits and choices.

In addition to approaches that improve operational sustainability, our design strategies now encourage the personal and institutional behaviors that will contribute to our broader sustainability and community-building objectives. Another priority is to build and use space more efficiently, requiring that we consider how effectively those spaces are utilized from an occupancy and scheduling perspective.

Global Context, Local Action

By 2050 nearly 70 percent of the world’s growing population will reside in urban areas.1 The continued conversion of land to urban uses is a source of cumulative damage to human health and the global biosphere,2 unless we implement a significant change in approach.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, with nearly 95 percent of its population already living in urban areas.3 Sustainable design and development are critical in reversing the damage from past development patterns.

As it grows, Princeton intends to be an exemplar of green design and infrastructure while cultivating a strong sense of place and belonging, and acknowledging and paying respect to the original inhabitants of the land on which the University stands. At the same time, the impact of building materials on people and ecosystems are increasingly being taken into account in procurement decisions, all along the supply chain--from production to use to disposal.


How We Plan To Get There

Campus Action Items

  • Implement an Integrative Design Process (IDP) in capital projects.
  • For major projects, obtain third-party green building certification where feasible, equivalent to LEED Gold standards or better depending on building type.
  • Continue to apply the biannually revised Design Standards Manual (DSM), which defines minimum building performance and Life Cycle Costing Assessment requirements for systems and materials.
  • Maximize efficient use of land by integrating layered functions such as stormwater management and geothermal wells integrated into athletic fields, etc.
  • Optimize use of space through efficient building design, compact development footprints and improved room scheduling.
  • Analyze major building systems and materials with an internal “carbon pricing” assessment as well as a newly adopted comparison with the cost of installing off-campus green power infrastructure.
  • Develop a comprehensive post-occupancy building performance evaluation process that includes user feedback.
  • Encourage campus-as-lab investigations when new construction or land-use change opportunities arise.
  • Raise the visibility of sustainable building features through communications such as interpretive signage and experiential learning activities in courses.
  • Implement a Sustainability Advocacy Committee to serve as the steward of campus sustainability targets and objectives across all capital projects.
  • Reinforce Princeton’s design and development goals during key programs, including orientation for all new design teams and administrative leadership, and collaborative sessions with local municipal and nonprofit teams.
  • Apply behavioral science approaches during design and operations that nudge the behavior of building occupants to reduce the use of resources.
  • Scale action beyond Princeton through engagement, such as with architectural and design associations, and by building relationships with practitioners who can apply novel ideas adopted on campus in our region and beyond.
  • Expand the on-site reuse of soils from construction sites to reduce the costs and environmental impacts associated with transporting and processing soils off-site.


lakeside student housing

Lakeside Apartments (pictured above) earned LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and both 701 Carnegie Center and the High Performance Computing Research Center earned LEED Gold. A summary of sustainable features in these and other projects is available on the Facilities website.

New buildings and major renovations that removed hardscape and helped improve stormwater infiltration include the Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Sherrerd Hall, the Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and Lakeside Graduate Housing. Third-party developed projects have also met high sustainability standards.

In 2008 Princeton was an early adopter in implementing an internal carbon pricing strategy integrated with its Life Cycle Cost Assessment (LCCA) to inform decisions in the building planning process.

Scales of Impact - You/Campus

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